Providing the Best Care

At BayCare, clinical excellence works together with compassionate care. That means the best health care for West Central Florida — from attracting the best doctors and providing access to the newest medical interventions to keeping patients safe while they’re receiving care and helping them recover as soon as possible. It means world-class pediatric care including a hospital – St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital – that has the highest level neonatal intensive care unit, a level II pediatric trauma center and the nationally recognized Daniel J. Plasencia, MD, Children’s Chronic Complex Clinic. It means performing 18,000 orthopedic surgeries annually – the most in the region – to help people get on with their lives. And when the unthinkable happens, it’s about being ready with 12 certified stroke centers and nationally ranked cardiovascular care. It means not resting on our laurels. Through innovation and the smart adoption of technology, BayCare continues to enhance patient outcomes, provide advanced behavioral health treatment and deliver safer, evidence-based protocols and procedures. The best health care is also about building for the future, including a steadfast commitment to attracting and training the next generation of doctors so high-quality care dedicated to the community and provided with compassion continues in West Central Florida for decades to come.

“The relentless pursuit of clinical excellence will continue to be our true north as we evolve, extend and expand services at all care delivery points.”

—Dr. Sowmya Viswanathan, Chief Physician Executive, BayCare

A National Leader in Cardiovascular Care

BayCare is West Central Florida’s leading provider of heart care for children and adults. In 2023, all BayCare’s open heart centers achieved the highest quality three-star rating from the Society for Thoracic Surgeons. This designation, awarded for superior outcomes in open-heart surgery, places Morton Plant Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Winter Haven Hospital in the top 10% of hospitals in the nation to receive the three-star rating for cardiac surgery outcomes. 

Advancing Care Through Research

BayCare continued its tradition, through research and clinical trials for medical devices and procedures, to advance the most innovative care. 

A First in Aortic Valve Replacement

Morton Plant Hospital's pioneering team, led by interventional cardiologist Lang Lin, MD, and cardiovascular surgeon Joshua Rovin, MD, FACS, became Florida’s first to apply the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure for aortic regurgitation in native valves.

A New Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) 

For years, doctors at St. Joseph’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute have contributed to clinical trials to address AFib, which causes the heart to beat irregularly or too fast and can lead to stroke. One of those trials led to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the new POLARx FIT™ cryoballoon catheter – the only FDA-approved stand-alone treatment for patients who have long-standing persistent AFib. St. Joseph’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute was the first in Central Florida to perform the procedure.

Number of cardiac surgeries and procedures performed by BayCare teams

Building Better Care

BayCare believes the best care is when patients achieve optimal health outcomes, because they receive the right care at the right time in the right place. “This transformation is about challenging ourselves to examine everything we do in health care to make sure it’s contributing to excellent patient outcomes, as effectively as possible,” said Emily Scott, BayCare senior vice president and chief transformation and service line officer.

It means designing pathways to reduce variation, so patients receive the highest, evidence-based care. It also means providing care that avoids unnecessary emergency visits, testing, hospital stays and other unexpected costs.

The ethos is called care transformation and at BayCare, it’s a daily effort. Multidisciplinary teams, working in concert with frontline team members, make observations and suggestions, mine data and perform analysis to confirm which treatments lead to the best outcomes for major conditions. Then they share that information across the system and put those ideas into action. By doing so, BayCare takes its commitment to improving the health of all it serves one step further — through consistently, systematically reimagining care delivery to ensure BayCare patients have the best chance for recovery, while also keeping an eye on health care expenses. That’s better for everyone.

Benefits of Care Transformation Efforts

Hospital admissions from emergency department prevented since 2021
Hospital days saved (for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, sepsis and heart failure)
Million in medical savings through care transformation initiatives (cumulative total of approximately $73 million realized over three years)

Liberating Freddie

Freddie Walton had a stroke and then a heart attack in 2023 at age 47. He spent weeks on a ventilator in the intensive care unit at Morton Plant Hospital and his condition began to worsen. Many BayCare team members, including physical therapists, worked hard to improve Freddie’s condition by getting him moving safely from sitting upright to standing at the edge of the bed to taking his first steps using a body-weight support system.

Physical therapy assistant Susan Lacey developed a special rapport with Freddie and was determined to help him get stronger so he could leave the ICU. During their sessions together, she even played music including “Freddy, My Love” from “Grease” and the “Rocky” theme song to motivate him. Freddie’s wife, Charlene, later sent the team a video that showed him walking in their neighborhood. “They just helped me so much,” Freddie said. “Everybody there was pulling for me.”

Improving Quality of Life After the ICU

On any given day, BayCare’s 19 intensive care units (ICUs) provide critical care for up to 372 patients. Interdisciplinary teams plan daily care, but they also focus on each patient's “ICU liberation,” by designing a path to ease their transition back to life after discharge.

BayCare’s efforts, based on the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s research, seek to shield patients from common adverse effects of the ICU, such as pain, sedation, immobility and sleep disruption. Team members involve families and multidisciplinary critical care teams in the care process.

Benefits of ICU Liberation at BayCare

Shorter length of stay in the ICU 
Decrease in median ventilator days 
Fewer ICU admissions (based on standardized risk determination by interdisciplinary teams) 

BayCare’s eICU Ranked No. 1

At BayCare, each adult ICU patient has both a bedside nurse and an eICU nurse monitoring their care. We have the largest single health system virtual ICU in the nation and are ranked first in best practice compliance for 2022 and 2023 among health systems using the Philips eICU patient monitoring platform. 

Giving Wyatt the Care He Needs

When he was 1 month old, Wyatt Quevedo was diagnosed with a severe form of hemophilia A, a condition that means his body lacks sufficient blood clotting factors, raising the risk of life-threatening bleeding. Now a high-energy 2-year-old, Wyatt is a patient at BayCare’s Center for Bleeding and Clotting Disorders at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, where he has access to the most advanced treatments and clinical trials. 

Hemophilia is an inherited disorder, but Wyatt was the first known member of his family to have it. The diagnosis was traumatic for the family, but Wyatt’s mother, Roxannet Quevedo, said her care team at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital has made all the difference.

“I have so much support now,” she said. “His doctor, Dr. Erin Cockrell, is like family. If there’s an emergency, we go to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, and they have an amazing team that knows what Wyatt needs. In fact, we just moved from Dade City to Tampa so we could be closer to the hospital. Now we’re only five minutes away.”

Caring for the Whole Person

Recognizing that optimal health includes good mental health, BayCare is unique in its integrated approach to delivering behavioral health services, including in primary care, emergency room, inpatient hospital and urgent care settings. In 2023, BayCare provided behavioral health services to 44,049 unique individuals. The proactive approach included:

  • Working with Hillsborough County to open the region’s first joint psychiatric and medical hospital unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North in Lutz
  • Ensuring pediatric oncology patients had access to behavioral health support in their specialty clinics
  • Expanding its Mobile Response Teams – partnerships with sheriff’s departments, schools and hospitals in Hernando and Pasco counties — to respond to adults and teens in crisis
  • Continuing as the largest provider of Employee Assistance Programs for large employers and nonprofit organizations, including churches
  • Sustaining extensive community partnerships with programs that serve chronically mentally ill individuals and children and their families and children of addicted parents

Curing Childhood Cancers

Fifty years ago, childhood cancers had cure rates of less than 20%. But cutting-edge research, such as that done at Bayless Children’s Cancer Institute at BayCare’s St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital (SJCH), has helped shift the odds. Today, more than half a million adults are survivors of childhood cancer, and BayCare patients have a cure rate that exceeds national averages.

In 2023, BayCare facilitated over 40 clinical trials for children with cancer and in the past three years, BayCare patients have achieved a 90% cure rate, surpassing the national average.

Among them was Aiya Aceti, who battled multiple brain tumors and testicular cancer, under the care of pediatric neuro-oncologist Trisha P. Larkin, MD, MBA, and the SJCH pediatric hematology-oncology team. In 2023, at the age of 20, Aiya celebrated his cancer-free status by ringing the bell as team members applauded, and he and his family shared a moment of gratitude. Today, Aiya is a college film major and plans to direct a documentary about his cancer journey.

Walking After Robotic Joint Replacement

Retired U.S. Army nurse Dianna Bushaw underwent a robotic knee replacement in January 2023. Two months later, she returned to her dog walking business. In 2023, BayCare performed 18,826 orthopedic surgeries, including robotic orthopedic joint replacements. One out of three BayCare knee and hip replacement surgical patients went home the same day as their surgery.

The Most Accredited Bariatric Programs

BayCare has the most accredited hospital bariatric programs in the region, with seven accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). A quality program established by the American College of Surgeons, MBSAQIP accredits bariatric surgery centers in the U.S. and Canada that have undergone an independent, voluntary and rigorous peer evaluation in accordance with nationally recognized bariatric surgical standards. Those hospitals are Mease Countryside Hospital, Mease Dunedin Hospital, St. Anthony’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital-South, South Florida Baptist Hospital and Winter Haven Hospital. BayCare is one of the only health care systems to offer an orthopedic weight loss program designed specifically for patients in need of a joint replacement who may require weight loss to improve their postsurgical outcomes.

Research: Finding Health Care’s Potential

Through 450 health research projects, including 250 sponsored clinical trials, BayCare helped advance the future of medicine in 2023. Some of the world’s best-known hospital systems, academic institutions and manufacturers of medical devices and drugs sought out BayCare for participation in their own research projects. This provided BayCare patients access to potentially cutting-edge treatments before they were available on the market.

One Trial’s Outcome: Hope for Breast Cancer Treatment

With 82 participating patients, BayCare was one of the largest enrollers in a pivotal clinical trial whose results are expected to help improve surgical outcomes for patients with breast cancer undergoing lumpectomy procedures. The Investigation of Novel Surgical Imaging for Tumor Excision (INSITE) trial, sponsored by Lumicell, Inc., was led at BayCare by Dr. Peter Blumencranz at Morton Plant Hospital, involved clinicians from the hospital and team members from laboratory, pathology, pharmacy and BayCare Medical Group, and was supported by BayCare research teams as well. The trial evaluated LUMISIGHT™, an optical imaging agent, used in combination with the Lumicell™ Direct Visualization System (DVS). These products are investigational and are for use in patients with breast cancer who are undergoing lumpectomy procedures. This combination product is designed to assist in the detection of residual cancerous tissue within the lumpectomy cavity following the removal of the primary specimen, to illuminate residual cancer in real time.

LUMISIGHT and Lumicell DVS are currently under FDA review and aren’t commercially available. Read more about the trial's findings in the New England Journal of Medicine: Evidence “Intraoperative Fluorescence Guidance for Breast Cancer Lumpectomy Surgery.”  

Training the Next Generation

“The practice of medicine is constantly evolving and BayCare is committed to being at the forefront. By investing in physician education and research, we’ll make sure that BayCare’s exceptional physicians and clinicians continue to innovate and grow as they deliver the most advanced care for our patients and the entire region.”

- Stephanie Conners, BayCare president and CEO

In its commitment to help address the region’s need for more physicians, BayCare reached a milestone in 2023, obtaining 10-year Continued Accreditation status from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to serve as a sponsoring institution. The status sets the stage for BayCare to broaden its graduate medical education across multiple specialties.

BayCare-sponsored residencies in psychiatry and pediatrics welcomed six and eight new residents, respectively, in 2023. These complement the well-established family medicine programs affiliated with the University of South Florida at Morton Plant Hospital and Florida State University at Winter Haven Hospital, the latter of which had its first graduating class in 2023. Winter Haven Hospital is also home to a pharmacy residency program. The vast majority of residency graduates have chosen to continue to practice in West Central Florida, helping to address the need for health care access for our communities.